League Express editor Martyn Sadler has his say on the controversy from last weekend’s Betfred Challenge Cup semi final between St Helens and Hull FC
The thing we are all familiar with, of course, is St Helens reaching another major final.
On Saturday they proved to be a little too strong for Hull FC, although the Airlie Birds fought back to within three points in the second half, coming back into the game valiantly, until Jake Connor tried to make one pass too many and it fell into the grateful hands of Regan Grace. Once Regan got the ball in space there was no doubt that the game was over.
Earlier, however, we’d seen a moment of controversy when Josh Griffin snapped his Achilles tendon running out of defence and, in severe pain, lost control of the ball.
Saints’ halfback Theo Fages was onto it like a flash and touched it down for a try a couple of seconds later.
Inevitably he was subject to hearty booing from the Hull fans in the crowd and was criticised by the BBC presenter Mark Chapman for not having stopped the game when Griffin was in obvious distress.
Quite a lot of people also piled into Fages on various forms of social media.
But the players who were with Chapman in the studio – Jon Wilkin and Jamie Jones-Buchanan – didn’t join with Fages’ critics. They recognised that Fages was following the old adage of playing to the whistle and that, although unlucky for Griffin and Hull, there was no real alternative to that course of action.
After the game Hull coach Brett Hodgson had no complaints about that incident and there was little doubt that if the boot had been on the other foot, and a St Helens player had done what Griffin did when injured, then Hull would have gladly accepted the gift of a try.
If Griffin had been injured in an illegal tackle by a Saints player, then the referee would have blown his whistle and the game would have been stopped. But that wasn’t what happened.
And if players are expected to diagnose on the spot when an opponent is badly injured and drops the ball, then we are entering new territory.
What would happen if a player under pressure feigned an injury to get some more breathing space when a team is bringing the ball out of defence?
Don’t think it couldn’t happen.
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